In this undated photo provided by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Harun is shown. Harun, an admitted al-Qaida fighter, has been sentenced in New York on Thursday 16 March 2017, the federal terrorism charges for participating in a violent firefight in Afghanistan that left two AMERICAN soldiers dead. (U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, via AP)
NEW YORK – Admitted al-Qaida operative Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Harun is just the type of “bad guy” that Donald Trump has said should be imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.
Maybe in the future, that is where people like him will end. But under an Obama-era policy that the preference trial in the civil courts for anti-American fighters captured abroad, Harun was sent instead to New York, where he was convicted on Thursday of the murder of two AMERICAN soldiers on a battlefield in Afghanistan, nearly 14 years ago.
Jurors deliberated for just two hours before finding him guilty.
Harun belief keeps alive a perfect track record for federal prosecutors in New York. Since 9/11, they have tried more than two dozen people accused of committing acts of terrorism abroad. Each of those people has condemned.
“It is really the last gasp of the Obama administration to prove that even in a battlefield situation, the courts work well,” said Karen Greenberg, a national security expert at Fordham University.
Or that strategy will fade under the Trump is unclear.
The population of the prisoners at the AMERICAN military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has dropped to 41, down from a one-time high of 680, but Trump has pledged to re-load with a number of bad guys.”
New U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said in a radio interview earlier this month that Guantanamo was “a very fine place for keeping this kind of criminals.”
He has also indicated the administration would equip efforts for the use of military courts for the prosecution of alleged terrorists.
Critics say that the approach flies in the face of the strong track record in the civil courts.
Legal challenges to military courts have repeatedly short-circuited or indefinitely postponed proceedings against five Guantanamo detainees, including self-described Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in New York have built up beliefs.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the only former Guantanamo prisoner to be tried in a civilian court, was convicted in 2010 of conspiracy in the 1998 bombing of two AMERICAN embassies in East Africa. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist and al-Qaida associate, was sentenced to an 86-year imprisonment in 2010 for shooting at the US authorities who tried to question her in a police station in Afghanistan.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin laden, was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to kill Americans.
As Harun, who was born in Saudi Arabia, but claims to be a citizen of Niger, was captured earlier, he would undoubtedly eventually in Guantanamo rather than in the regular U.S. legal system.
Prosecutors said he took part in a deadly 2003 ambush of the AMERICAN troops near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Later that year, they said, that he to Africa and the mastermind behind a failed plot to blow up the AMERICAN embassy in Nigeria.
He was being held in Libya and held in a prison there from 2005 until 2011, when he was released under unclear circumstances around the time that Muammar Gaddafi was fighting a rebellion.
Harun was arrested by the Italian officers who, in the same year, after being found on a refugee ship in the Mediterranean Sea. He was transferred to the US custody in 2013.
One of the most important pieces of the evidence against him was a Koran, the prosecutors said that he had left on the battlefield in Afghanistan following the 2003 shootout.
An AMERICAN soldier took it home as a souvenir. Researchers later followed the Qur’an down and found Harun is involved, the government said.
Prosecutors told jurors he gave a long confession, detailing how he became an al-Qaida fighter under the guidance of senior members of the terrorist network, some of them still imprisoned in Guantanamo.
During the test, Air Force Master Sgt. Lee Blackwell described 2003 battle and the dying moments of a comrade who was shot in the face.
“He was pulling me, clawing at me,” Blackwell said. “I told him that I loved him. I was proud of him.”
In his confession, Harun described the throwing of a grenade at the soldiers, shooting an assault rifle and shouting “God is great!” prosecutors said.
Harun, 43, refused to attend his trial in New York.
At a court hearing last year, he demanded both the return of his Qur’an, and a military trial in Guantanamo.
“I am a warrior,” said he, “and the war is not over yet.”